Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Chinese Culture Celebrated in Germany

There is a dippy tradition observed in Germany that is called simply "Karneval" (English for Carnival). And it is bigger than the Munich Oktoberfest!

[Note: This celebration is called Karneval or Fasching (pronounced FAH-shing) depending on the region you are in. In general, Karneval is used in northwest Germany (except in Mainz), with Fasching primarily used in southern Germany. The name Fastenacht is also used in Baden-W├╝rttemberg]. 

Travel to Germany during this Carnival period and experience whole cities indulging in all-out partying and often punctuated by street parades and costume balls. 

Carnival has its roots in Catholicism – and it kicks off 40 days before Easter – the last big celebration before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In essence, the last chance to party before getting pious. 

[Note: Ash Wednesday this year is February 14th and the beginning of Lent – a 40-day period of fasting, penance, and reflection for Catholics. This is in preparation for Easter, when Catholics recognize Christ’s Resurrection]. 

Carnival involves a public celebration of parades, costumes and performances. It’s good to know that satire is celebrated and all authorities are mocked – especially political figures. Everyday rules and norms are on hiatus. In other words, tomfoolery is permitted. 

In the small town of Dietfurt in the district of Neumarkt in Bavaria, Carnival is err…ehm…well, bizarre. During this festivity, the whole town turns Chinese. 

Very true – since 1928, the people of Dietfurt have celebrated the Thursday before Ash Wednesday – by becoming "Bavarian Chinese". 

During what they call "Chinese Carnival" they dress up in Oriental costumes and hand over the rule of their town – at least metaphorically – to a "Chinese emperor" chosen from among the townspeople. Of course, the town's mayor is relegated to the status of "imperial Mandarin" for the week. 
















Image credit: Webpage http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/photo-gallery-partying-with-the-bavarian-chinese-fotostrecke-51834.html











Image credit: Webpage http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/0223/c90000-9429132.html 

To celebrate the new emperor, the townspeople hold a parade in his honor. Each year the townspeople, whom one might assume have little other connection to China besides the odd pair of sports shoes made there, dress up in Chinese costumes, organize dragon dances, and compose faux-Chinese songs and greetings for their new "emperor". 

The origins of the Chinese carnival in Dietfurt are not completely clear although it is thought that it had something to do with a dispute over church taxes in the late 19th century. 

Apparently back then, the townspeople locked their walled town down so that nobody could collect the taxes. When officials found themselves in front of the walled city they likened the Bavarians to Chinese who sheltered behind the Great Wall of China.

In fact, a stele in the town says that the distance between itself and Beijing (formerly romanized as Peking) is 7,698 kilometers. 

From the photos above, it gives me the impression that this is more like a Fu Manchu-style Hollywood spectacle. 

Anyway, all in good fun, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Malaysia's Debt is the Stuff of Nightmares

Many Malaysians are alarmed about the state of our finances.

But Prime Minister Najib Razak keeps reassuring us that the country will not go bankrupt! We are financially strong. Nothing to worry about. 

On Thursday, he repeated that refrain.

In fact, the fact that Najib has to reiterate so many times makes me disbelieve him!

Not only that. But he has also vouched that Malaysia's debt is at a manageable level. If you believe him lah. 

Still concerns persist over how much interest is being paid to service the expanding debt and whether borrowing by state firms hides a growing problem. 

Last month, Najib announced Malaysia’s total debt stood at RM685.1 billion in 2017 and this had compared favorably against other countries  because it constituted only 50.9% of the country’s economy, or GDP. 

"Malaysia is better than developed countries such as Singapore at 112%, United Kingdom at 89.3%, Canada at 92.3%", cited Najib proudly as he spieled numbers. 

But he neglected to explain that Singapore spent far less servicing its debt, using only 6.1% of its revenue in 2016. By comparison, Malaysia used 12.5% of its income on interest payments that year. 

This year, Putrajaya is expected to pay RM31 billion in interest, which is more than double the amount paid in 2009 when Najib took over and when the government’s interest burden was less than 9% of its revenue, according to Singapore's Straits TImes report published February 16, 2018. 

This amounts to nearly all the personal income tax the government expects to collect, or more than two-thirds of its takings from the unpopular GST, which it commenced collecting in 2015. 

Malaysia has a single-A-rated status, meaning, we have to borrow at higher rates compared with countries like Singapore, which is triple-A rated – and this poses a further challenge to the government in lowering its debt interest payments. 

Another concern is undisclosed or “off-the books”, government payments to help ailing state firms. 

We know only too well that the government does not record these payments as debt service – they come under obscure items, such as "strategic sector payments" and "other repayments". 

We know the Budget excludes them. Heck, they are not even accountable to Parliament. 

The Singapore paper already reported that this year, these items will cost the government RM8 billion, or 3.3% of revenue. 

Of course, we all know that high public debt, if left unaddressed in the long term, would put the country at risk of default. 

And some media reports had exposed that, going by an annual growth rate of 10.7%, Malaysia's debt could reach RM1 trillion by 2021 on excessive spending. 

This is the stuff of nightmares!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Luis Suarez is Tourism Malaysia Ambassador

OMG, Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez (right) is Tourism Malaysia Ambassador! 

It appears that Tourism Malaysia has been given way too much money to spend. 

They have no clue what to do with all that windfall – so on November 09, 2017, it announced that it had sealed a year-long partnership with Suarez. 

The contract is between Tourism Malaysia and Mediapro, the Asian representative for the top-rated footballer. 

The deal is expected to supposedly drive interest for Malaysia as a tourist destination, leveraging on the football player’s popularity around the world. 

Tourism Malaysia advertisements will be screened at 18 stadiums during La Liga matches through cooperation with Futbol Club Barcelona. 

Malaysiakini reported that the government spent a total of RM7.5 million for this whole Tourism Malaysia campaign. 

According to this said report, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz mentioned RM3.1 million was paid for four 60-second videos that will feature Suarez promoting tourism destinations, culture, food, and traditional sports in Malaysia. 

Nazri had explained that by scoring more goals, Suarez will get more opportunities to say things that would attract tourists to Malaysia. 

The video of this shitass talking about Suarez in Parliament is available here:  
Isn’t that stupid or what? 

Tourism Malaysia informed us that Suarez had learnt some basic greetings to "help” him in his promotion of Malaysia:

These are the other two videos that I managed to locate – but I can't find the fourth video:

It is said that Suarez was paid up to RM775,000 for each video he was featured in. 

Anyway, netizens rebuked Tourism Malaysia for the poor production quality of the videos. Yup, they were really sad!

Suarez tweeted his Lunar New Year greetings to Malaysians on February 16, 2018: 

“Other than celebrating and experiencing different cultures in Malaysia, I'm also learning some basic Malaysian words. Happy Chinese New Year everyone. Malaysia is a country that celebrates its diversity. Find out more http://www.malaysia.travel/en/my/places for info! @TourismMalaysia to video”. 

But he attached a photo of him saying "Vanakkam" (hello in Tamil), with Batu Caves as its background: 








The photo in Suarez's tweet was a still taken from the Tourism Malaysia video, where he says hello and welcome in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, and Tamil. 

Rightfully, it should have been this photo: 








Suarez seemed to have got himself mixed up – understandably so because he is not expected to be familiar with Malaysia! 

It is Tourism Malaysia that screwed up big time! 

What a bunch of assholes we have at Tourism Malaysia! What a waste of taxpayers’ money! What an embarrassment!

Yesterday, Celtic restored their nine-point lead in the Scottish Premiership when they beat Aberdeen 2-0. 

Moussa Dembele headed in James Forrest's cross at the back post in the thirty-seventh minute. Then Kieran Tierney lashed an unstoppable angled drive beyond the Dons keeper in the eighty-third minute. 

Celtic didn’t exactly give a polished performance but it was still good enough to win.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Undilah

A Pete Teo PSA Music Video promoting the vote:
Every Malaysian of voting age must do his/her duty as a citizen. To register as a voter. To vote in GE14. To change the present government.

You should know by now that EVERY VOTE COUNTS!


Image credit: https://www.sayangsabah.com/en/enhanced-security-in-esszone-through-cooperation/ 

The year 2017 saw zero kidnappings off the coast of Sabah  what is now referred to as the Eastern Sabah Security Zone. And this year so far  all is quiet on the eastern front.

But in the restive islands of southern Philippines, the lucrative business of kidnapping goes on as usual. That itself is not unusual.

On February 14, 2018, the Ajang Ajang group, a sub-group of the Abu Sayyaf, abducted Enrico Nee, a Department of Public Works and Highways engineer, while on his way to work in Jolo in Sulu, according to local officials. 

An intelligence source revealed: “So far, they have carried out local kidnappings in Jolo itself but they are likely to look beyond soon”. 

It is said that the militants are eyeing shipping vessels and fishing boats at sea borders between southern Philippines and the east coast of Sabah as targets. 

They had reportedly planned to carry out raids in Sabah waters but they could not slip through the high level of alert put in place by Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM). 

We cannot afford to be complacent. That explains why the dusk-to-dawn curfew in the waters of seven districts (i.e. Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran) in the ESSZone is still in effect. 

In fact, it has been extended until March 06, 2018. 

I am glad to know that ESSCOM do make a difference! Syabas!

Celtic travelled to Russia with a precious 1-0 lead in the last-32 clash against Zenit St Petersburg, but the former capitulated in Thursday's second leg as the latter whacked them 3-0 and won on a 3-1 aggregate. 

The manner the Glaswegian side let in the goals indicated they didn’t deserve to win. It was painfully plain to see that their overall play lacked aggression, bravery and creativity. 

And with that, the Scottish champions exited the Europa League. 














On Saturday, Liverpool and West Ham battled in this EPL game in which the former overcame the latter 4-1. Liverpool were a "joy to watch", exclaimed manager Jurgen Klopp and indeed, they were.

Emre Can gave Liverpool a headstart from a corner in the twenty-ninth minute – the Reds' 100th goal this season. Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 with an instinctive, low finish after a delicious pass by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the fifty-first minute – before Roberto Firmino added the third, six minutes later after a mistake by the Hammer goalkeeper. Sadio Mane added the fourth when he got his goal in the seventy-seventh minute. 

Still they conceded in the fifty-ninth minute – but Michail Antonio's goal could not take the shine off this win. 

Do you know that Liverpool (103) are the second EPL team to score 100-plus goals in all competitions this season after Manchester City (111)? Wowee! 

Liverpool are now unbeaten in 16 matches at home in the league – and hitting brilliant form at the right time of the season. And of course, they strengthened their hold on a Champions League place.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Cannonade of Farts










Picture: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images 

Whether you find farting disgusting or not – it’s a bodily function we all perform. 

Also referred to as passing wind or passing gas among other, less polite names – you should know that, on average we produce half a liter of fart gas a day. That translates to fourteen farts, assuming of course, everything is ticking along nicely. 

Farting in a closed space can be really stinking and sickening. 

But let’s face it – if you are a normal human being, there will be moments in your life where you may have needed to fart in a public place.

It may not be particularly dignified but you gotta do what you gotta do. 

Of course, manners dictate that you make the necessary excuse and then quickly find your way to the nearest restroom to release your discomfort. 

That wasn't the case for one person on a Transavia Airlines Flight HV6902 from Dubai, UAE to Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

The fart-induced drama happened on February 11, 2018 when two men sitting next to an apparently very flatulent man raised a stink about his repeated gas attacks, according to Fox News. I would describe it as a cannonade of farts.

The farts were supposedly fetid and foul-smelling. But of course. 

When the alleged perpetrator didn’t stop or couldn’t stop – his unhappy seatmates reportedly complained to the cabin crew, who apparently did nothing. Or maybe, they couldn’t do anything. 

Then, it seems that the captain issued a warning to the two complainants, accusing them of boisterous and aggressive behavior as well as making threats, according to the NL Times.

When the freedom-from-flatulence fighters went on and on with their noisy griping about their fellow passenger – a fracas broke out on the plane, according to the Dutch language newspaper De Telegraaf

The plane was diverted to Vienna, Austria where the complainants were evicted. But the farting man was spared. 

Two women sitting in the same row as the angry men were also forced off the plane. One news report said they too had misbehaved and used abusive language. 

I am not sure of its relevance but every news report I read highlighted the fact that all four shared Dutch and Moroccan ancestry. 

Anyway, the women had claimed they had nothing to do with the commotion – and so, they are now taking the Dutch budget airline to court, according to the Metro. 

The four passengers expelled from the plane were not arrested – they had not broken any Austrian laws – but they had been issued with travel bans.

Malaysian squash queen Nicol David (right) suffered the biggest defeat in her career since the 2002 Seattle Open – when she was knocked out by Egyptian teenager, Hania El Hammamy, in the opening round in the Windy City Open in Chicago, USA on Friday (Saturday, Malaysian Time). 

David had taken a commanding lead in the match by taking the first two sets, but the 17-year-old Cairo native produced a remarkable fightback to score a 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-9 win. 

The going can only get tougher for her. But she has got to keep believing in herself. Just keep going. 

And victory will come. Believe it.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Who Should Get the Credit?













Deputy minister Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah sits on a potholed road and prays to Allah for help to have it repaired. Facebook picture












Abu Bakar gives the thumbs up after repair works were done. Facebook pic 

Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah is the deputy science, technology and innovation minister. He is also the Member of Parliament for Tangga Batu. And yet, these portfolios couldn't help him to get things done.

He had highlighted the potholes along Jalan Bukit Berlian in Melaka to the district council a week earlier and asked them to carry out repair works. 

On Monday, he noticed that nothing was done. 

Therefore, Abu Bakar felt compelled to take drastic action. 

He performed a prayer in front of one large pothole and this was posted on his Facebook page. The picture of him sitting on the road and asking for divine help went viral. 

Hardly 12 hours later, the road repairs were carried out. 

Depending on whom you ask, we can either thank God or Facebook.

Did you read my post about the Lunar New Year ad featuring a rooster that barks that was published on February 17, 2018? 

Apparently, the barking cock was no boo-boo! At least according to Auntie Siow. She maintained that it was actually done on purpose.

Give her a listen:
And believe me, she was not talking cock! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bloodbaths on American Soil










Parents wait for news after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Pic by Joel Auerbach

On Valentine’s Day this year, a 19-year old male, Nikolas Cruz, took an Uber to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

He was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, law enforcement officials said, which he used to spray bullets to unsuspecting victims. 

He then fled the scene on foot, blending in with the rush of students pouring from the building. 

The massacre unfolded in less than 10 minutes, according to the timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office. The aftermath of this mass shooting saw at least 17 people killed and 15 others wounded, with five individuals sustaining life-threatening injuries.

The February 14, 2018 slaughter was not the latest nor will it be the last. 

Check out the gruesome statistics extracted from website Gun Violence Archive under heading Mass Shootings @ Webpage http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting:















I hadn't realized how commonplace shooting incidents are in the country. 

And like all the other mass shootings there – tears flowed freely, followed by cries of anguish that quickly turned to anger. 

Citizens organized anti-gun rallies and pleaded/pushed/pressed for stricter gun control. 

Listen to the speech by Parkland student Emma Gonzalez at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday – where she demanded national lawmakers to do something to prevent mass school shootings. She even called out President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association by name:

I am sorry but I don’t believe anything will change. Not enough Americans care enough.

The killings will continue. And life goes on for the rest of the country.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Emily of Emerald Hill: Fund-raiser for Ooi Eow Jin













On February 11, 2018, I was at The Play Haus, a performance art theatre in Pearl Shopping Gallery in Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur to watch Emily of Emerald Hill. And I was fortunate to be given a seat in the second row at the front. 

This monologue play is immensely popular and it has been staged since 1984 – and I only caught it this time around. 

Emily of Emerald Hill is a nostalgic re-enactment of the glorious days of the Peranakan (Straits-born) Chinese in Singapore. The commonsense portrayal of the protagonist Emily in a multiplicity of roles, starting as a daughter to becoming a daughter-in-law, wife, mother and matriarch presents us with a tapestry of multi-layered perspectives of a lavish Baba-Nyonya lifestyle underpinned by wealth and status. 

There is nothing kitsch about this play – instead, it exudes rich intentions, authentic realism and charming elegance. 

And the formidable Pearlly Chua stylishly performed with put-on panache – and bringing me back to the good old days that I could only read about but would never experience.





















I will readily admit that the 100-minute production gave me a concise yet compelling insight into a vanishing Peranakan culture and a slice of the history of Singapore (which is not unlike Malaysia).

It was a narrative that I could easily relate to and I am sure, with many others too. More so, since I am a Peranakan. 

A sparse setting. A down-to-earth script. A single character. And uncomplicated circumstances  these were all completely recognizable. 

A fascinating story because it tells of a feisty woman fighting for acceptance and at the same time, securing her position as the ‘first lady’ in a stifling environment that overflows with social norms and patriarchy. She has to pay a heavy price too – having had to grapple with her eldest son’s suicide and her estrangement from her husband. 

After so many performances – the show still stayed true and portrayed just as lovingly. Pearlly Chua was eloquent, expressive and evocative. A remarkable actor – this was her 201st performance, I’m told. 

Emily of Emerald Hill was written by award-winning Singaporean playwright Stella Kon and directed by world renowned Malaysian director Chin San Sooi. 













I actually asked Chin if Chua was ever tired of reprising her role as Emily Gan umpteenth times – and he responded that he knew the latter did not feel that way. Passion drove her and it still does. 

As the drama unfolded, I was gripped to my seat. I was immersed into the storyline straightaway. I was engaged, engrossed, enthralled. 

Thank you for the play that celebrates the strength and stamina of the human spirit allowing it to survive, succeed, and still stay relevant in an ever-changing world. 

Congratulations to everybody for bringing back this show. And for a worthy cause too!














This was Chin’s fund-raising initiative to raise funds for retired composer and songwriter Ooi Eow Jin (pic below). 













Image credit: Webpage https//:www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/27/emily-of-emerald-hill-returns-to-help-musical-maestro-ooi-eow-jin/

Ooi – who collaborated with entertainers such as P Ramlee and Sudirman Arshad in a career that spanned four decades – has been stricken with Alzheimer's disease since 2015.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Cockroach as Prime Minister

One Facebook user seemingly was so desperate to get rid of Najib Razak that he claimed even a cockroach can make a good prime ministrial candidate. 

“Yes, even if you put a cockroach, I will vote for it. Najib must go”, he wrote in the comments section. 

(Yes! I am not afraid to declare that I am in agreement too).

Muhammad Iszam was one of 1,517 people who took part in a Facebook poll organized by The Malaysian Insight on December 04, 2017. 

Users were asked if they agreed with the proposed Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail leadership should Pakatan Harapan win Putrajaya in GE14. 

After a 24-hour polling period, 872 (57%) users said "yes" while 645 (43%) said "no". 

A similar poll was held on Twitter where 107 people (48%) voted for the said pairing as opposed to 115 (52%) who didn't during the six-hour voting window. 

I have included a few other comments as well. 

Sharifah Eedurah Al-Qudsie supported Wan Azizah in the hopes of removing the current leaders. 

“I say yes to Wan Azizah as long as Najib and the geng (are) out”, she wrote. 

Tamil Arasan agreed with PH’s strategy, saying, “For political strategy, I’m saying YES”. 

Those who disagreed felt that the older generation should step back and take on a more advisory role, making way for new faces, such as Mohamed Azmin Ali or Rafizi Ramli. 

“No. Be an elder and set the stage for the next batch now”, said Ndrew Teng. 

Me  I am just delighted that even a cockroach can be of good standing, when compared to shitass Najib!  

am not sure if Iszam was referring to the American cockroach (Periplaneta americanaor) or the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) – the two most common species found in Malaysian homes. I guess, a cockroach is a cockroach is a cockroach. 

Anyway, a lipas is always preferable to najis, LOL!








Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola thought "ass" just meant "butt." But that’s just the tip of assberg. Check him out here:


On Sunday, Celtic were held to a scoreless draw by a dogged St Johnstone side. Anyway, the Scottish Premiership leaders increased their advantage at the top of the table to nine points.